Is Salesforce pivoting from its social enterprise rap?

Is Salesforce pivoting from its social enterprise rap?

Summary: The social enterprise movement may be running into a wall of culture, management and process. It's not about software.

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Social enterprise software may not be that utopia originally foreseen by Salesforce.com. That's the argument from a Wall Street analyst who opines that Salesforce is backing off its social enterprise talk.

In a research note, Cowen & Co. analyst Peter Goldmacher said:

Despite making a big splash around Social at its user conference in October, conversations with the CRM ecosystem around weak "Social" pipeline conversion, a lack of customer traction around Social Marketing and accelerating declines in sales productivity lead us to believe that Salesforce’s latest marketing gambit isn't paying off.

Goldmacher also noted that Salesforce's home page is more cloud than social these days.

If Goldmacher is right a few questions emerge. The biggest one will revolve around social software acquisitions such as Radian6 and Buddy Media, two deals that cost Salesforce more than $1 billion combined. Another item worth pondering is whether Oracle's social push is denting Salesforce. 

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Is Salesforce playing down the social on its home page?

 

The research note from Goldmacher sparked an interesting discussion on the Enterprise Irregulars list. The gist goes like this:

  • The social enterprise is about culture, management and process. It's not about software.
  • If that culture and process point sounds familiar that's because social software may be ERP in a new wrapper. ERP software changed companies fundamentally, but also led to spectacular IT disasters largely due to people, process and culture. Social with business process integration won't work.
  • Internal collaboration also creates social mojo. Collaboration goes well beyond software and frankly is difficult.

Now what? Like most technologies, social is following a familiar path. First there's the argument that the software will change everything. Then there's the realization that the latest tech won't magically cure your enterprise. Then there's the blowback. Quietly---and just as everyone writes it off---something else comes along as an enabler. The social enterprise may follow a similar route, but for now it's disillusionment time.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Cloud, Collaboration, Salesforce.com, Social Enterprise

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3 comments
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  • Fundamentally wrong!

    To say, quoting Peter Goldmacher, that "Social with business process integration won't work" is fundamentally wrong. What salesforce.com have done with Chatter in trying to score social behaviour in performance review scoring is genuinely innovative. I agree though, that a 'social enterprise' is a not-for-profit org and the enterprise commercial world should not steal this label. However, socialising and externalising software in the cloud is crucially important.
    Being Guided
  • Social software is ERP in a new wrapper

    I think that ERP has been to this point anti-social insofar as it has lacked integration with social media. It needs to be able to connect peers and customers across any platform and provide visibility of the process. SalesForce.com is able to deliver true social ERP through its Platform as a Servce, open API and through its Chatter and Marketing Cloud suite connecting the organisation to its customers. I don't know of any other ERP that can achieve this yet.
    Bartley Doyle
  • It's not a question of pivoting

    It's not a question of pivoting from "social" technologies and platforms, it's a question of marketing and branding as the term "social" is so used and misused these days. What we called "social marketing" yesterday is part of any online marketing practise today.
    JoakimNilsson